Good News, And Fascinating Data, For Daytime Soaps

TVNewsCheck posted an article today with lots of interesting data on the current state of daytime television.

The soaps generate more ad revenue than network game shows and talk shows. The average soap pulled in $130 million between January 2009 and May 2010, compared to $100 million for the average talk show and $96 million for the average game show, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media.

Advertisers like the shows for their ability to zero in on female consumers, who account for 76% of soap viewers, according to Nielsen.

"Advertisers also prefer to be in quality scripted series," says media industry analyst Shari Anne Brill. "Another talk show or another game show isn't a suitable replacement for advertisers who want to have their products showcased in a program with a story."

Online viewership numbers are encouraging.

On in June, YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS was No. 1 among all CBS's shows with 551,000 viewers, according to comScore. On in the same month, Days of Our Lives ranked No. 5 among NBC's shows with 229,000 viewers, trailing only primetime and late night shows AMERICA'S GOT TALENT, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, THE OFFICE and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.

On, GENERAL HOSPITAL ranked No. 5 among all its shows with 571,000 people tuning in.

Recently, ABC began adding original soap content to its sites (also including In its WHAT IF webisodes, characters from different soaps like ALL MY CHILDREN's Erica Kane and GENERAL HOSPITAL's Sonny Corinthos meet each other.

From July 12 to July 21, WHAT IF generated 1.7 million page views on and 190,000 on SOAPnet.

Cable TV has had a huge impact. In 2000-01, for instance, broadcast networks accounted for 49% of the household audience from 1 to 4 p.m., where most soaps are slotted, compared to cable's 45%, according to the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau. In 2009-10, broadcast is down to 29% while cable is up to 58%.

Another major challenge for soaps is production costs. In recent years, five episodes per week cost $1 million to $2 million for an average soap, according to research firm SNL Kagan. By comparison, a week's worth of game shows or talk shows cost about $250,000 to $500,000.

The networks have been scrambling to cut costs, though. In fact, the average cost for ABC's soaps is down to about $800,000 to $1 million per week, according to Brian Frons, president of daytime at Disney ABC Television Group.


  1. If this true, then why are the networks trying to kill soaps? Perhaps they should be contacting Claire Labine or another writer to create a new soap instead of talk shows that aren't going to last more than a year or two (Bonnie Hunt, Wayne Brady etc.)

  2. What the article fails to touch on is the expense of producing a soap verses the game show and the talk show. Believe me, I don't want to see the soaps disappear and the loss of Guiding Light still stings, but while they bring in more advertising dollars, soaps are also much more expensive to produce.

  3. TL Smeltzer,

    The article does, in fact, discuss the difference in costs for soaps and game/talk shows. Soaps cost $800k TO $2Mil per week versus $250K to $500K for game/talk shows.